Common sleep supplement could actually boost memory

Credit: Unsplash+

A recently study from Tokyo Medical and Dental University has unveiled some promising findings about melatonin and its ability to influence memory retention.

This research could pave the way for new treatments to combat cognitive decline in both mice and potentially humans.

Melatonin is commonly recognized for its role in regulating sleep, but it may have additional benefits, particularly in memory retention and cognitive health.

In this study, the focus was on melatonin’s metabolites—substances created when melatonin breaks down in the body. The researchers were interested in these metabolites’ potential cognitive benefits.

The natural behaviors of mice make them ideal subjects for memory studies. Mice tend to explore new objects more than familiar ones, which provides a simple way to assess their memory.

Objects are only considered familiar if they are remembered, a concept that mirrors how humans recognize and recall familiar items.

In the context of this study, the scientists employed a novel object recognition task to evaluate memory. Typically, cognitive decline in mice is indicated by their inability to distinguish between new and familiar objects, treating both as if they were new.

To investigate their hypothesis about melatonin’s metabolites, the research team conducted experiments where mice were exposed to certain objects and then administered melatonin and its two specific metabolites one hour later. Their memory was tested the following day.

The results were striking. The treatment appeared to enhance the mice’s memory, with one metabolite known as AMK showing the most significant effect.

This metabolite, among others, was found to accumulate in the hippocampus—the brain region crucial for forming long-term memories.

Further experiments demonstrated that when the conversion of melatonin into AMK was blocked, there was a noticeable decline in memory enhancement, underscoring AMK’s pivotal role in memory formation.

This effect was consistent across all ages of mice tested, suggesting its potential universal application.

The implications of these findings are particularly significant for older mice, who showed marked improvements in memory.

This gives researchers hope that similar positive outcomes could be seen in older humans, potentially leading to new therapies for conditions like Mild Cognitive Impairment and, by extension, possibly even Alzheimer’s disease.

As the study progresses, there is optimism that AMK therapy could emerge as a viable strategy to lessen the severity of cognitive impairments linked to aging.

While these findings are preliminary and more research is needed to confirm the effects in humans, they offer a promising glimpse into how understanding and harnessing the properties of melatonin and its metabolites could lead to significant advances in the treatment of memory-related conditions.

The findings of this study have been published in the Journal of Pineal Research, with Dr. Atsuhiko Hattori at the helm of the research team.

For those interested in maintaining or enhancing brain health, these discoveries suggest that melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, could play a crucial role in safeguarding cognitive functions as we age.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about low choline intake linked to higher dementia risk, and how eating nuts can affect your cognitive ability.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.